Hand Painted Photography     Rosemary Pipitone    

Rosemary Pipitone creates luminous images using oil glazes on black-and-white photography. Her original pieces, elegant and surreal, offer a brief escape into dreamy landscapes of intense color and soft light. Ms. Pipitone's technical expertise and enthusiasm for hand painting black and white photos have led to a sponsorship by, the leading producer of transparent photo paints. As a Marshall's artist, Ms. Pipitone leads workshops in photo painting techniques and lends her talent to such exhibits as the Photo Expo East trade show.

How I Create

Artists Statement

About the Hand Painted Photography Technique

I photograph this vanishing geography not just as a record of what once was, but to create a visual escape for myself and my audience. Many spend the majority of their daylight hours tucked away in air-conditioned, windowless, high-rise buildings. An idyllic landscape reminds us of the wide world outside our daily pressures and deadlines.

Painting on black-and-white photographs allows me to focus on a single end result while exploring two creative realms. I love the challenge of finding an unspoiled landscape and translating the image to a hand-painted photo. I have always loved the photographic image: Light, space, and time are captured in a way no other media can do and then are uniquely translated to two-dimensional prints. I am fascinated by how lens choice, format, film type, and exposure will change the dynamics of an image. I enjoy blending the technical demands of photography with the emotional free form of hand painting.

I have a passion for the richness and depth that can only be achieved with the use of applied color. Those wonderful little swirls and dabs of paint lend a glow and intensity that can only be found in oil painting. It emanates from within the piece and beckons to the viewer, grabs you by the collar and pulls you into its realm.

My vision for each piece is brought to fruition slowly, through the application of layers of transparent oil paint, rather than left to chance at the photo lab. My work is not enhanced by computer; all elements are captured on film or created by brush. The end result is an ethereal glow that reflects the tonality of the black-and-white print as well as the image as I envision it.


Ms. Pipitone's favorite subjects include florals, landscapes, seascapes and still-lifes. Her stunning original photographs are available in custom-painted limited editions to coordinate with individual decor. Her artwork is on display in private collections in various regions throughout the U.S. and is equally at home in both private and corporate spaces.

Ms. Pipitone, a former Connecticut Yankee, lives in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her husband and two cats, enjoys traveling and documenting the pockets of magical beauty and tranquility she discovers while exploring her world. She confesses a weakness for "a seat with a view -- or a view with a seat" and, when she stumbles upon either, she sets about creating a visual escape with camera and paintbrush.

Her technique, a painstaking process of applying multiple layers of oil glazes directly to the emulsion of black-and-white photographs, yields a unique, ethereal glow that suggests a summer sunset in the midst of a New England winter. Ms. Pipitone's distinctive style is influenced by the work of Edward Hopper, Wallace Nutting, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, but her perspective and approach are all her own.

.originals  .commissions  .workshops

The term is misunderstood & requires a clarification of terms as they are used.

Hand Tinting  is a light blush of transparent color.

Hand Coloring  is where the shading has more details and complexities. Colors are stronger than in tinting.

Hand Painting  techniques, pigments are applied with brushes and other painting tools and employs one or more of the traditional painting techniques. Brushes allow for more intricate detail work but are slower execution. Colors can run the gamut from blush of color to very intense colors.

The landscape is disappearing. Gone are the sweeping panoramas; what remains are a few tiny pockets of beauty. Urban sprawl is as pervasive as any cancer and just as deadly to the human spirit. Once, family farms and small family businesses laced our charming country roads; now they have been replaced with strip malls, chain stores and planned housing communities. Telephone poles, cell towers, and power lines litter these once pristine views. It has become quite the challenge to find an unspoiled landscape amidst this visual rubble.

I begin by scouting my location to determine the best light, time of day to shoot and relative position to the subject. Depending on the subject, I may experiment with different exposures and shutter speeds, sometimes intentionally allowing some elements in a landscape to blur. At this time, I decide which elements should be painted and which will be left black and white. I arrange these elements within the frame accordingly. I do not take color reference shots but rather, make notes on the colors I want to use in each element. All prints are made on Ilford Gallerie Fiber-based Warm Tone paper using archival processing methods.

My unique Hand Painting technique is a painstaking process of applying multiple layers of transparent and opaque oil paints directly to the emulsion of black-and-white photographs that yields an ethereal glow. I employ a combination of traditional Photo Coloring and Painting on Canvas layering techniques, such as, glazing, scumbling, and impasto. In some areas, the paints are thin and transparent to allow the photographic details to shine through the layers of paint. In other areas, the paint is applied thick and opaque with visible descriptive brushwork obscuring the photograph. The combination adds texture and depth. Each layer must be thoroughly dry before adding the next keeping the colors pure and crisp, creating an image that is part photograph, part painting.

I love to puzzle the viewer forcing them to stop and ask: What is that? Is that a photograph or a painting? I have created a distinctive style influenced by a combination of elements or techniques found in the work of Wallace Nutting, Edward Hopper, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Maxfield Parrish.